Sarawak dollar

The dollar was the currency of Sarawak from 1858 to 1953. It was subdivided into 100 cents. The dollar remained at par with the Straits dollar and its successor the Malayan dollar, the currency of Malaya and Singapore, from its introduction until both currencies were replaced by the Malaya and British Borneo dollar in 1953.

Sarawak dollar
Sarawak dollar
Sarawak dollar of 1935.
Banknotes5, 10, 20, 25, 50 cents, 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 dollars
Coins¼, ½, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents
User(s) Raj of Sarawak
Central bankGovernment of Sarawak
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

During the Japanese occupation period (1942–1945), paper money was issued in denominations ranging from 1 cent to 1,000 dollars. This currency was fixed at 1 dollar = 1 Japanese yen, compared to a 1:2 pre-war rate. Following the war, the Japanese occupation currency was declared worthless and the previous issues of the Sarawakian dollar regained their value relative to sterling (two shillings four pence).


All Sarawak coins carry the portrait and the name of either of the three "White Rajahs" of Sarawak, James Brooke until 1868, Charles Brooke from 1868 to 1917, and Charles Vyner Brooke from 1917 to the end of this currency in 1938. Throughout its history, coins were minted in values of 14 cent, 12 cent, 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, and 50 cents. The copper 14 was the smallest denomination and the first to be discontinued, last being issued in 1896. The 12 was also always copper and after reductions in size was eventually discontinued in 1933. Starting in 1892 1 cent coins had a hole in the centre, but the holed design was later discontinued after 1897.

In 1920 the 1 cent was struck in copper-nickel but later reverted to bronze in 1927. The 5 and 10 cents were 80% silver until 1920, when they were briefly reduced to 40% silver and then replaced by copper-nickel the same year. The 20 and 50 cents remained silver but were reduced from 80% to 40% starting that same year thereafter.[1]


The first series was issued by the Sarawak Government Treasury. They were hand-stamped notes of low quality. All later notes were issued by the Government of Sarawak except for the 10-cent and 25-cent notes in 1919 (by the Treasury again). Throughout its history, banknotes came in the values of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100.[2]

See also


  1. Goerge S, Cuhaj (2005). 2006 Standard Catalog of world coins (1901 to present). USA: KP Books. p. 1888. ISBN 0-87349-987-5.
  2. Goerge S, Cuhaj (2008). Sarawak - Standard Catalog of World paper money - General Issues - (1368–1960) (12th ed.). USA: Krause Publications. p. 1049. ISBN 978-0-89689-730-4.
Preceded by:
No modern predecessor
Currency of the Raj of Sarawak
1858 1942
Note: had been at par with the Straits dollar, and the Malayan dollar after 1939
Succeeded by:
Japanese government-issued dollar
Location: present day Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei
Reason: Japanese occupation
Ratio: at par
Note: The Japanese allowed the former currencies to circulate, but they were in practice hoarded as a more reliable store of value.
Preceded by:
Japanese government-issued dollar
Location: present day Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei
Reason: Japan lost World War II
Ratio: The occupation currency became worthless. The value of the pre-occupation currency was restored.
Currency of the Raj of Sarawak
1945 1946
Note: had been at par with the Malayan dollar
Currency of the Colony of Sarawak
1946 1953
Note: had been at par with the Malayan dollar
Succeeded by:
Malaya and British Borneo dollar
Reason: creation of a common Board of Commissioners of Currency
Ratio: at par, or 60 dollars = 7 British pounds
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